Simon West standing by an enormous tree in an Italian garden

If You Have Trees And A Forest

There is an old saying dating back from Cicero, which says, if you have a garden and a library, you don’t lack anything. The connection with books and plants seems as old as civilization. During the pandemic, both these activities helped to keep us safe, sound and sane. Either because we had to stay indoors for such a long time, or because we missed the connection with nature, the fact is that during the lockdown period, people got very involved with gardening and books.

Both activities have great healing properties while helping us to be engaged within our community, even more when we could not meet or hang out as we used to. Plants and trees can ease anxiety, as well as create a peaceful atmosphere and a sense of belonging. They did not only help us to cope with the stress of this period, they also made us realise the importance of clean and fresh air.

The other ancient saying from Cicero’s epoch points out that everyone should plant a tree, at least once, during their lifetime.

Shelves of books by by Alfons Morales on Unsplash
 by Alfons Morales on Unsplash

As soon as the lockdown period was eased, all I kept thinking was that I should get some tree seeds and plant them around because this would help the planet, and possibly maintain a healthy environment for all of us. Fresh, clean air is not an infinite resource. 

As a researcher, I also wanted to know everything possible about trees, their types, sizes, seeds, leaves, growing period. Therefore, I took the initiative and contacted my city council, finding out that  they had an Agronomy Department, which could donate seeds for reforestation for general use, including domestic.I could not feel more enthusiastic about the idea, I applied for 1.000 of them without much experience of how much work that would involve in needing more people engaged in the project and helping me to to plant them. 

It was a lot of work, but I was able to find many people willing to cooperate. We planted 300 of them at a park near my children’s school. Needless to say that we spent a whole weekend planting them with  parents and teachers. However, it was such a memorable time. A father from the school, who also owned a shop close by, offered to host some of the baby trees to donate to customers. The fact is that around 300 more of the baby trees were gone in a week. The other 400 of them were spread among a small farmers association, of which I am a member,  and we planted them all across an unpaved road next to the city. 

My children loved the fact that they were able to dig the new homes for the trees and plant them. The joy of seeing a tree that we planted grow was immense. Now, when I look at them growing by themselves, I have a feeling of mission accomplished. I may not have made this world better, but for sure, I was able to make it a little greener.

There is so much more still needed to keep Earth’s natural resources safe. Another thing I surely learned taking on this whole challenging target was that once we begin, people will help us out along the way.  

Nowadays, I understand that both trees and quotes can make the planet greener and us healthier.

Monica Mastrantonio and The Team

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